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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

CHAPTER   IX

THE  SEVENTEENTH  CENTURY

i. THE AFTERMATH OF THE REFORMATION    .

THE Seventeenth Century opened with a promising display of
educational enterprise in various parts of Europe. But the
tremendous religious conflicts consequent on the Reformation,
which came to a head in the Huguenot wars in France, the Thirty
Years War in Germany and the Civil War in England, inevitably
blighted this promise, and left most of the nations too exhausted
to have much energy to spare for education or any ordinary social
interest. The difficulty was least felt in Catholic countries,
because there the Jesuit organization, in spite of all the political
turmoil, continued to expand and to grow steadily in wealth and
power. In Protestant countries, on the other hand, the economic
and administrative defects inherent in the new educational sys-
tems became increasingly manifest. The reformed churches
tended to lose their hold on the schools with the development of
the secular spirit; and the endowments conserved for education
at the Reformation, being insufficiently supplemented by the
State or by private generosity, commonly proved too scanty for
the needs of the times. With poorly-equipped schools and badly-
paid teachers the quality of education declined, and by the end of
the century educational stagnation was general over a considerable
part of the north and west of Europe.

In these circumstances it is not at all surprising that the grammar
school of the Sixteenth Century, which gave instruction in Latin
and religion and made little or no provision for the study of the
vernacular or of other modern subjects, maintained its position
practically unchanged. Latin had ceased to be the one language
in which men of learning gave expression to their views on every
subject, and outside a small circle of scholars there were com-
paratively few who retained the renaissance faith in classical
study as the sole means of educational salvation. But the gram-
mar school was in possession of the field, and so it continued

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